The apocalyptic group The Family and their guru, Anne Hamilton-Byrne, captured international headlines throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
Hamilton-Byrne, who some followers believed was Jesus Christ, was glamorous and charismatic -- and, many allege, very dangerous. She acquired children -- some through adoption and some born to cult members -- and raised them as her own, bleaching their hair blonde to make them look like siblings. The group, which grew out of Anne's yoga classes in the heady days of the countercultural movement, became surrounded by rumours of LSD use, child abuse, and strange spiritual rituals.
In 1987, police swooped on The Family's lakeside compound and rescued children who claimed they were part of Anne's future master race. The children recounted terrible stories of near starvation, emotional manipulation, and physical abuse. But Anne could not be found, sparking an international police hunt that involved Interpol and the FBI. Could they bring Anne to justice?
Today, the elderly Anne lives in a nursing home with dementia. She has only one criminal conviction to her name, but her estate is estimated to be worth millions. Her few remaining followers attend her bedside.
How did such a notorious group come to flourish in suburban Melbourne? How did Anne, one of few female cult leaders, maintain a hold over her followers? Drawing on police files, diary entries, recordings of Anne, and original interviews with survivors and investigators, The Family goes inside one of the most bizarre cults in modern history to expose its strange and shocking story.
About the Author
Chris Johnston is a senior writer for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, based in Melbourne. He has been covering developments related to The Family for several years.
Rosie Jones is an award-winning writer, director, and editor. Her most recent credits include the feature documentary The Triangle Wars (Best Australian Documentary, Antenna Documentary Festival 2011), Westall '66: a suburban UFO mystery and Obsessed with Walking, about the Booker-nominated writer Will Self. She has edited numerous documentaries, including James Cameron’s feature documentary, DeepSea Challenge 3D, and the multi-awarded short docs Queen of the Desert and My Brother Vinnie.
Reviewed by 2 customers
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I love True Crime and this book is a fascinating insight intoa strange and bizarre Australian Cult l,ed by a female cult leader.
This book is well researched and contains fascinating information. However, it jumps around a lot which makes overall reading somewhat difficult. It would have benefitted from stronger editing and perhaps a more chronological format so that the development and changes in the cult over the years could have been more clearly shown. Loved the larger format of this book, easy to read print.
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 13th February 2017
Publisher: Scribe Publications
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.3 x 15.5 x 2.6
Weight (kg): 0.4